Trinity Renewed: Keller Links Health of Episcopal Church to Community

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 12:00 am  

The Rev. Christoph Keller III, interim dean and rector of Trinity Cathedral in Little Rock. | (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

He may only be “interim” dean and rector of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, but the Rev. Christoph Keller III has no intention of being a place holder.

When he took office six months ago, Keller told Little Rock developer Rett Tucker, a longtime church member who helped recruit Keller, that he intended to be an “energetic interim.” To that end, Keller has launched an effort to reinvigorate the cathedral, which will mark the 130th anniversary of its downtown founding on Oct. 30.

He has committed to serving the cathedral for two years.

Keller links the redevelopment of the cathedral and the redevelopment of downtown.

“There are two different kinds of redevelopment going on,” he said in a recent interview. “There’s the redevelopment of downtown, of which the cathedral is a part, and there’s also a redevelopment and kind of a turnaround effort going on at the cathedral. I think that they are mutually reinforcing in a small way.”

Keller, who in his interim role replaced the Rev. Jonathon Jensen, who left for a church in Pittsburgh, sees Little Rock as a city “on the rise.” It’s a circumstance that gives the church an opportunity to expand its reach into the community.

In taking on his new position at Trinity, Keller saw three main needs: financial, programmatic and administrative.

“My assessment was that there were three things that needed to happen,” Keller said. “One was, financially, we needed to come out of the hole. That was more of a morale problem really than it was a money problem.”

And that problem, he said, has been addressed.

In addition, “there’s a program deficit,” Keller said. “We weren’t doing near what we could do, what we have the capability of doing for a church of this size as far as offering programs to our members and to the community.”

To help address that need, Keller is offering a 12-week lecture and discussion series, “Christian Faith and Modern Science,” which begins Sunday, Sept. 7. That’s “Rally Day” at the cathedral, when a number of new services and programs begin in an effort to reach out not only to parishioners but to the central Arkansas community.

Finally, “there’s kind of an organizational, administrative problem,” Keller said. Keller’s father, Christoph Keller Jr., was also an Episcopal priest, rising to lead the Diocese of Arkansas of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. Before he entered the priesthood, however, Keller’s father learned a little something about administration and management as an executive at Murphy Oil Corp. of El Dorado. Keller explained:



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